Category Archives: Computer Science & Technology

Computer science flourishes in Philadelphia

PIT-PennJobs_IMAGE-0421Written By Magaly Olivero

Graduates with degrees in the fast-growing field of computer science who are entering the job market need look no further than the Philadelphia area, according to industry recruiters.

“Computer science is probably one of the most in-demand technical skills and degrees that companies are looking for right now,” said Beth Dang, recruiting director for information technology at Experis, a unit of staffing and consulting giant ManpowerGroup. Information technology in general hasn’t slowed down at all even during the past five years when we were going through a recession,”

Dang covers the Philadelphia and Baltimore areas.

Information technology professionals (which includes computer science majors) have been a staple on global staffing giant ManpowerGroup’s annual top-ten list of the professionals that companies need most but can’t find.

Forty percent of businesses in the United States have difficulty filling these jobs. More than thirty-five percent of the business leaders surveyed said they couldn’t find talent with the necessary technical skills.

Given this scenario, students with degrees in computer science from a college that offers hands-on job experience through internships and other workplace opportunities have a clear advantage. Even an associate’s degree in computer science can pave the way for a rewarding career. Many computer scientists find positions where they can develop their skills and grow professionally.

The major role of computer scientists

Computer scientists design and create new approaches to technology and find innovative uses for existing technology. They solve complex computing problems that help companies to operate more efficiently and economically, while at the same time meeting the needs and expectations of their customers.

“Computer science is the most popular degree under the information technology umbrella,” said Kevin Maas, division manager for Jobspring Partners’ Philadelphia office, which exclusively works in information technology markets. His team also runs an event series, Tech in Motion, which aims to educate, connect and inspire technical professionals in Philadelphia.

“Anyone who graduates with an information technology or computer science degree is not going to have much trouble finding a job,” said Maas. “The cool thing about information technology is that it’s part of every single industry and every single company.”

Industry giants in business, medicine, science, technology, finance and other fields offer many career opportunities for computer scientists, recruiters said. But with technology at the core of so many endeavors, computer scientists can also find meaningful positions at start-ups and small and medium businesses, they said.

Philadelphia is fast becoming a hub for computer science and information technology professionals, according to recruiters. For example, Comcast Corporation is building a state-of-the-art innovation and technology center in Center City. The proposed $1.2 billion, 59-story tower will be located next to the company’s global headquarters.

Dang estimates that 75 percent of the 10,000 jobs housed in the new Comcast center will be in the information technology field. “There are more jobs than there are viable candidates for those roles,” said Dang. “There just aren’t enough people trained to do that type of work.”

“Philadelphia has done an amazing job at increasing technology funding and incubating a lot of start-ups so they can grow their business organically without having to move to New York, Boston or Washington, D.C.,” said Maas. “They’re doing a lot to keep information technology talent right here in the city.”

More companies want computer scientists “who are technically savvy and have good communication skills,” said Dang. In the past, company employees in information technology, business and marketing were more likely to work in silos with little interaction between departments.

“Now it’s very different,” she said. “Companies what people in their information technology and business departments to communicate and collaborate so each has a better understanding of the company’s goals, products and services.”

With future projections of a robust job market, Dang said she encourages high school and college students to consider a career in information technology and computer science.

“You’ll be able to find a job when you get out of college,” she said.

Careers in Tech – Firms need soft skills, software degrees

PIT-HotCareers_IMAGE-0421Article Written By Jason Gray

Tech skills are a hot commodity in any workplace in today’s economy. But even in Philadelphia’s extensive tech economy, companies hiring computer programmers, mobile application developers and software engineers want well-rounded applicants.

They are seeking strong communication skills, an ability to collaborate and innovate. They are looking for an overall sense of professionalism. In most instances, they also place a high value on industry-specific knowledge.

“We want people to have real skill sets,” said Karissa Justice of Azavea, the Philadelphia-based geospatial tech company. “People may have a degree in the tech field but no skills.”

Such skills can be essential for recent graduates to find a job and enjoy long-term professional success. In some instances, it may even allow someone to secure a position for which their technical background isn’t exactly right. Some companies may be willing to hire someone who has excellent soft skills and can be developed on the technical side.

Technology is constantly changing. Preferred programming languages and best practices change often.

Critical thinking, willingness to learn and teamwork skills can be critical. “We hire one out of every 30 to 35 people we interview, because it ultimately comes down to fit,” Rappaport said. “The people we hire like to teach – they’re the go-to people at their last position — but are still hungry to learn from the people around them.”

Mike Rappaport, CEO of Chariot Solutions, urges people hoping to enter the industry to develop their soft skills in addition to their software skills. “For soft skills, our consultants have to be well-rounded,” he said. “You can be deeply technical but not have the people skills or understand business as we need to.”

Potential benefits for a well-rounded candidate
Demand in the Pennsylvania area for technology professionals is strong, as it is in most other parts of the country. These jobs generally pay well.

Consider computer programmers and software engineers who write the code behind software programs. Most programmers specialize in a couple programming languages. They earn a median wage of $74,280, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Software developers and mobile app developers are the creative minds behind programs. Developers usually need more experience or education to be successful. The median wage is $90,000 with the top 10 percent of developers making more than $138,000, according to the BLS.

Software and app programmers are in particularly high demand in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Workforce Development agency lists the careers as one of the Statewide High Priority Occupations. “There’s a sense of urgency in this state,” Rappaport said. “Everyone has plans and are moving forward in ways completely reliant on software and infrastructure development. It’s about the hospital systems, insurance companies — people we don’t think of as tech companies. We want more companies to make their home in Pennsylvania, and we need to bring more tech into the area to support them.”

Many of the job openings at tech companies around Philadelphia ask for at least an associate degree. “I’d say having a degree is a big plus and makes life a lot easier to get the first job,” he said.

Internships to develop industry-specific skills
Rappaport added that companies need “skills related to the industry in which they work.”

This may include knowledge of finance for individuals who are looking for banking technology jobs, manufacturing processes, retail and a range of other industries.

Indeed, internships and volunteer work are often accepted as experience if the work fits the company’s market, even if the work does not directly involve software development. For example, Azavea hosts a three-month fellowship for students interested in geographic information systems.

And Chariot has an apprenticeship program that grew from a training program they offered to other companies. “I can’t put someone out to my customers if they haven’t proved they’re the real deal,” Rappaport said. “We believe they have the ability – we’re trying to give them the experience in addition to the classroom training.”

“I understand job seekers frustration that you need experience to get experience, but in the field of software development, experience doesn’t just mean holding a job with a title,” Justice said. “There are many open source projects or small personal projects people can work on to get hands-on experience actually making something.”

Top Careers in computer science

APIT-GreatComputerCareers_IMAGE-0421rticle Written By Magaly Olivero

Demand is rising for professionals holding computer science degrees as an increasing number of organizations rely on technology to operate effectively in today’s competitive business world.

Computer scientists design and develop all types of software, including operating systems and phone apps to interactive games. Graduates with computer science degrees have the flexibility to pursue numerous career paths with job growth projections faster than for other occupations nationwide.

Some people start by earning an associate’s degree that allows them to enter the workforce immediately after graduation or transfer to a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree. An associate’s degree in computer science is among the top 10 associate’s degree majors ranked by salary potential, according to PayScale.

Here’s a look at computer science career opportunities.

Systems design and analysis
Computer systems designers and analysts assess an organization’s needs and design information systems solutions that are tailored to the company’s requirements. These specialists learn how to choose, create and troubleshoot customized hardware and software systems. They also keep computer systems secure and up-to-date.

Mobile application development
From searching for a restaurant to tracking down the latest weather news, there’s likely a computer app that will bring the information directly to a smartphone or tablet. People with expertise in mobile application development create the software for wireless devices, including smartphones, tablets and wearable technology. Among the most prominent examples are the new iWatch from Apple. More consumers are using small devices to communicate, view entertainment programming and stay abreast of current events.

Website development
Website developers are responsible for the technical aspects of a website, such as programming, coding, page interactions, performance, speed and capacity to handle traffic from visitors. These professionals focus on how a site works – whether it’s the Internet or intranet (private network) – and how customers will use these websites. Web development can range from creating a single page to building complex Internet and intranet sites. Job prospects for web developers are projected to grow 20 percent from 2012 to 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which expects demand will be driven by the growing popularity of mobile devices and ecommerce.

Software engineering
Software engineers apply engineering principles to create computer systems that meet the unique specifications of a company. They often design, test and build software. Software engineers craft the designs that computer programmers implement when creating the codes for operating a program or system.

Technical support
Computer support specialists assist people and organizations that use computer software and equipment. Some specialists support information technology employees, while others assist non-information technology users who are experiencing computer problems. Employment opportunities for computer support specialists are projected to grow 17 percent from 2012 to 2020. More support services will be needed as organizations upgrade their computer equipment and software, industry experts predict.

The benefits of an associate’s degree in computer science

PIT-AssociateDegree_IMAGE-0421Article Written by: Magaly Olivero

Earning an associate’s degree in computer science can provide the foundation for expanding your educational credentials and landing a dream job.

An associate’s degree program allows you to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to join the workforce or pursue a more advanced educational degree. Earning an associate’s degree is a great way to jumpstart your career and improve your earning potential over a lifetime. Associate’s degrees are awarded at junior colleges, community colleges, vocational schools and technical colleges.

Consider these four reasons to purse an associate’s degree in computer science.

Explore career options
If you’re not ready to make a commitment to a four-year bachelor’s degree program or haven’t settled on a specific career path, then pursuing an associate’s degree might be an ideal way to explore your options. Working toward an associate’s degree may also allow you to complete your general educational requirements while you consider the direction you want your career to take. You’ll be able to explore career options with faculty who are knowledgeable about their industries.

Stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree
With an associate’s degree, you have the flexibility to transfer the credits you earned to a four-year bachelor’s degree program, either right after graduation or later on in your career. Many associate’s degree programs include the general educational requirements needed in a bachelor’s degree program. Most associate’s degree programs involve 60 credits and can be completed in two years of full-time study. Tuition for an associate’s degree typically cost less than a four-year degree.

Enter the workforce
An associate’s degree prepares you for immediate career opportunities in the field of your choice right after graduation. Many associate’s degree programs offer a combination of coursework and hands-on experience so you can develop the skills, knowledge and confidence required to enter the workforce. Once you’ve landed a job, you may consider whether you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree part-time.

Earning power
Graduates of associate’s degree programs typically earn more than those who hold lower degree certifications or high school diplomas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people holding an associate’s degree in 2014 had a median weekly salary of $761 – that’s $93 more than a high school graduate and $273 more than someone who didn’t graduate from high school. Those wages can add up to a significant amount of money during the course of a professional career.

 

A place to develop core tech skills

PIT-EssentialCourses_IMAGE-0421 Article Written by: Jennifer Nelson

Thinking about developing apps, writing code and getting in on the ground floor of a software engineering start up? A two-year computer science degree from the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology is the ticket.

Students have the sort of hands-on experience with core courses like CSS, JavaScript, JavaScript Frameworks and Ruby on Rails, to separate themselves from the competition. “Our graduates write code and can hit the ground running better than students who left a 4-year degree program,” said Professor Abbas Abdulmalik, Computer Science Program Manager at PIT.

They become computer programmers, mobile app developers, systems analysts and design specialists and find jobs in many, different industries. There is hardly a sector today in which technology has not been playing larger role. That includes even manufacturing, whose machinery runs more efficiently because of innovations in software.

The state-of-the-art hardware and software used in class enable students to learn on exactly what leading companies are working with. That makes them valuable to the IT industry from the start.

One complaint Abdulmalik hears from the real world is that no one knows how to code. “Our students know how to code,” he said.

A detailed, well-rounded education

The Computer Science degree program at PIT backloads tech courses early in the first semester so students develop the skills they need. They get a feel for what they will be working on in the real world almost from the beginning.

What’s more, employers continually say that new hires often don’t communicate well or know how to write reports and submit presentations once they land a job. Those are skills a PIT degree focuses on, as well. More and more employers desire not only tech-savvy talent, but holistic thinkers, problem-solvers and those adept at communicating well. Humanities courses like Composition 1 and 2 cover those bases.

The “sexy” words in computer science programs, the types of courses that get everyone excited about are probably Ruby on Rails, jQuery and AngularJS right now. “This is what employers look for, tools that allow new hires to quickly develop reliable code,” says Abdulmalik. “They can write code from scratch, but frameworks are important tools that help you get things done quickly. These classes are very popular picks.

Workers who can contribute

Abdulmalik says in the past some engineering firms were willing to hire graduates who lacked the skills and knowledge to contribute fully early on but showed great potential. The companies gave these young professionals time to develop. But given the competitiveness in the business world today, that is increasingly less possible.

Start-ups, small- and mid-sized companies do not have the luxury of waiting for their employees to learn fundamental skills on the job. They need workers who can contribute quickly.

With a computer science tech degree from PIT, students are fully ready to do outstanding work. They have theoretical and practical knowledge to work for a wide range of technology companies and other organizations.

Students also have a better background than many other students to succeed at a four-year degree program. Many PIT graduates are so well prepared that they opt to continue their education, earning bachelor’s degrees and even beyond.

Instructors at PIT come from real world tech backgrounds or hold positions in the IT field. They possess a keen sense of the skills that many organizations are seeking. They can also speak in-depth about common work issues in IT. PIT instructors care about students’ success.
PIT has the right combination of resources to help any graduate achieve their career goals.

How computer skills can translate to the medical office

By Jennifer Nelson

ComputerMedicalSkills
As medical offices continue to shift toward all-electronic systems for billing, insurance claims and health records, personnel with computer skills will be highly desirable.
Today’s medical offices handle administrative and management duties while the doctors and health professionals care for patients. What kind of computer skills do you need in a medical office? Health care personnel set appointments, receive patients, manage health records and take care of billing and insurance — all electronically. Specialties also include medical coding and medical transcription.

 

Computer skills needed

Employees who can type quickly and accurately and who know or can easily learn state-of-the-art software and computerized medical billing, coding and scheduling will have the upper hand in being hired for a position in the medical office place.

Skills such as handling written communications, writing reports, managing databases, scheduling appointments and processing billing translate straight to the medical office. Health care staff also need to be familiar with the use of basic word processing and spreadsheet software, such as WordPerfect, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.

With the numerous changes in the health care industry due to federal incentives for the conversion to electronic health care information systems through 2016, medical insurance personnel with excellent computer skills will be vital to the operation of hospitals, clinics and private physicians’ practices.

Did you know that the median salary for medical service managers — those who run or manage a clinic, a hospital department or a physician’s office — was $88,580 in 2012? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics, medical-service-manager jobs are projected to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2022, due to requirements of the Affordable Care Act, increased numbers of people with health insurance, and growing demand for medical services from the aging baby-boomer.

Likewise, positions for medical record personnel and health information technicians are expected to grow at the same rate. Those positions earned a median salary of $36,490 in metropolitan Philadelphia in 2013.

 

Doctors, nurses, billers and coders

Wherever medical services are performed, health care support staff — such as medical coders and billers — are also employed, including nursing care facilities, short-term rehabilitative hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, physical therapy clinics and nonprofit health care clinics.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ report on National Health Expenditure Projections for 2010-2020 report projected that, by 2020, national health spending is expected to reach $4.6 trillion.

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve and expand, trained, professional health care support staff and managers will be needed to meet the challenges of keeping the health care industry running smoothly.

 


Jennifer Nelson is a Florida-based writer who has written for WebMD, MSNBC, CNN and others.

Meet Jack Bacon!

Today I had the chance to interview the funny and charming Jack Bacon – Chief Information Officer at the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology. While I was preparing myself for this meeting, I was a bit nervous seeing as this was my first official interview with any of the Executive Leadership Team members since I became the social media blogger. While I was talking to Mr. Bacon, I felt like I could just keep rambling and asking questions; he is so easy to talk to, and has many similarities to myself and I’m sure for many other students as well.

JackBacon_smallestQ: Where did you attend high school?

A: “Upper Darby High School”

Q:  What college did you go to?

A: “Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, but when it was located in Upper Darby, PA.”

Q: What was your major, and how long did it take to complete it?

A: “I went for my Electronics degree  and it took me the 2 years to achieve it, but it took about 7 years after working in retail post-high school to figure out what I really wanted to do in my life.”

Q: What was your favorite thing about P.I.T. as a student then, and now as a member of the Leadership Team?

A: “As a student I enjoyed the fact that I really knew the instructors, and as an employee now, having the ability to make an impact on a student’s life”

Q: When did you start working here at P.I.T.?

A: “1992″

Q: How about your favorite color, TV show, and song?

A: Blue, “Grace Point” is a great show, and any song by Queen is the best.”

Q: What made you choose the job of Chief Information Officer?

A: “I don’t think we pick the jobs we have, I think the jobs pick us. Plus, I was great at math and I had a strong passion for computers.”

Q: If you had the chance to hop into a time machine and go back a couple years, what would you do differently?

A: “I would have definitely paid more attention in high school, went straight into college to earn my degree and stayed focused, that’s for sure.”

So, as you can see, Jack Bacon is just like us students that may have struggled in the beginning to get to where we are now. His career path shows that once you put your best foot forward and focus on the road you are mean to be on, nothing can stop you. Just keep on keeping on!

Stay tuned to the blog and to Facebook and Twitter to meet each of the members of the Executive Leadership Team at P.I.T.

 

How to Bring an App Idea into the Design Process

While many people can brainstorm unique app ideas, it is much more challenging to make those ideas come to life on a real world mobile device. Once an app idea has been formulated, the originator will have to begin the initial framework that sets the stage for the design process.

software applications

Storyboards

The first step in developing the app’s framework is to sketch out what the app will do. One of the most effective ways to do this is to grab a pen and paper and start drawing out storyboards. Storyboards, also referred to as wireframes, are sort of like the drawings that old school animators drew on square and rectangular pieces of paper for cartoon flip books. You can use a series of storyboards to write out the app’s functions in the sequential order that the user will progress through them. This is commonly referred to as content mapping. On the sides of each storyboard, write out the interactive elements of each app function. These “margin notes” explain what each app screen will do while the actual storyboard sketches will describe what the sequence of screens will look like to the app user.

User Experience Design

Storyboards are fundamental to the app’s user experience design. The term “user experience design” means the sequence of steps that the user takes to utilize the app’s intended functions. It’s a schematic for how the app will provide a refined and pleasurable experience for the user. Utilize the storyboards to map out how the app will be presented to the user. The app’s specific coding and technological components don’t have to be detailed on the storyboard framework. Those details will come later in the design process. Map out the app’s user experience design in enough detail so that a stranger could pick up the storyboards, flip through them and put together the general idea of the app in his mind’s eye.

software application design

 

Here’s an example of a general storyboard framework and user experience design:

App Homepage? Log In Credentials? App Settings? App Features? App Categories? App Functions? App Function #1? App Function #2? App Function # 3? Log Out

software applications design

These storyboards represent individual screens of unique web pages that will be highly detailed at the end of the design process. Think of the framework for the app’s design as its beginning skeleton. The skeleton’s bones set the foundation for the highly-detailed skin which will be added later on.

Getting Started

If you think designing apps sounds like something that you’d like to explore, the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology offers an Associate degree in Computer Science that can help you get started. For more information about the program or to apply, click here.

A Digital World: Why a Career in Computer Science Will Prepare You for the Future

computer science degreeAnybody who has been alive for the past decade has surely noticed the extreme, unprecedented transformations that have taken place in the technological world, and how those changes have altered society in ways that are both subtle and immense. Recent technological events manifest themselves in obvious ways: the current ubiquity of smartphones, the meteoric rise of tablet computers, the supplanting of many areas of physical media – from books and newspapers to compact discs and DVDs – by streaming media from the internet or the “cloud.” Of course, these changes are far from over.

It is impossible for anyone to accurately predict where technology is heading over the coming decades, but two things are certain:

  1. Technology will continue to evolve at a rapid rate, and
  2. New technology will continue to be computer based.

Because of these certainties, a computer science career is a way to ensure a lucrative, secure, and exciting career while also making your mark by working at the very cutting edge of technology that is continuing to change the world.

A Career in Computer Science

To some, the term “computer science” might sound kind of restrictive; however the range of applications of computer science is actually very expansive and encompasses a wide range of job options. Essentially, any organization that relies on computer technology needs people with extensive computer science expertise in order to keep their operations running well. The types of organizations include financial institutions, medical facilities, large corporations of all types, and of course, tech-oriented companies including computer, software, and video game developers.

The Importance of a Computer Science Degree

Because people with this knowledge and capability are so important to these companies, both placement and starting salaries for graduates with computer science degrees are excellent in comparison with other degrees and in general.

For those interested in a degree that will bring with it that rare balance of wide choice of jobs – both in field and geography – as well as a starting salary that is more than comfortable, a computer science degree is an ideal choice. The skill set that students acquire while earning this degree is so valuable to companies that job security and satisfying computer science career advancements are also likely.

Staying at the Cutting Edge

Of course, there is more to a career choice than just income and advancement potential. While these things are important, a lack of job satisfaction can often deflate the potential fulfillment of even a high-paying job. With a computer science degree, there is not only a vast choice of career possibilities, but the prospective role that somebody with these skills has to play at any given organization is invariably important. In many cases, a computer science degree is just the beginning of a computer science career that will not only be lucrative but also exciting in myriad ways as those in the computer field continue to discover and create ways to evolve and influence the technological universe and the way the world operates.

The Computer Science program at the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology is a great place to get started on your career in this field. Additional information on the program is available at our website.

 

 

Celebrities Team Up for Tech Education Initiative

Earlier in 2013, a group of high profile individuals came together for a video. It included Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, and will.i.am. for an education initiative that can be viewed with an accompanying article on Forbes.com. They were promoting Code.org, a non-profit organization, as a way to get people more interested in learning about computer coding along with correcting misconceptions about the skill. The celebrities discuss their first experiences with code and present it as something that anyone can learn. They state ‘you don’t have to be a genius to learn how to code, you just have to be determined.’

tech education inititativeThe short film highlights not only the vast role technology plays in our culture with a growing interest in coding, but a greater need for computer programmers. The field of Computer Science continues to grow, resulting in a greater demand for people who are trained and educated in the programming industry. The industry is expected to grow even more in the coming years. For those interested in learning coding or other areas of Computer Science, the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology (P.I.T.) is a respected technical college that can help. With one campus in Media and another in Center City Philadelphia, P.I.T. offers programs for a career in computer programming. You can learn the fundamentals of computer science and expand your career opportunities.

P.I.T. uses experiential learning, which includes direct, hands-on experience with software engineering. The instructors are knowledgeable about the subject field they teach. Their knowledge is built on both their own educational experiences as well as their own career experience in the field. The software used is state-of-the-art, so you are receiving up-to-date knowledge and learning experiences. You will learn how to code along with other components of development. The class sizes at P.I.T. are small, allowing a more intimate learning experience. P.I.T. also provides free tutoring to students. Additionally, the Career Services Office provides resume, cover letter, and interview preparation, while the faculty assists with portfolio building.

In addition to the great learning experience, the program culminates in an associate’s degree which can be completed in two-years. The program is also flexible; you can take courses around your schedule, as a full-time or part-time student. Several courses are also offered through P.I.T.’s eLearning option.

So if you are looking to branch out into computer programming, learn from Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates, and others in various industries by learning about computer coding at the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology. Become trained in an innovative and practical field that can be applied to numerous careers. It is an exciting industry with amazing possibilities. P.I.T. is a technical college dedicated to producing successful graduates. With a degree in Computer Science, you can become a computer programmer, systems design associate, mobile application developer, and many more. It is a field where technical skills and imagination meet. Check out our “Upcoming Events” for dates and times of Open House events. Stop by one of the P.I.T. locations for more information.